Explore Scotland’s winter charm with four or eight days’ unlimited travel by rail, sail, and coach.
Can there be a better way to see Scotland in winter? With the Spirit of Scotland travel pass you can go anywhere – it even includes ferry travel to Scotland’s west coast isles with CalMac.
Here’s what you get
- Unlimited journeys – four days’ travel over eight consecutive days (£111 with 20% saving), or eight days’ travel over 15 consecutive days (£143 with 20% saving)
- Leisurely travel – you can travel on any off-peak, standard-class service
- Hop on, hop off – no need to book in advance, just show up and set off
- Free coach travel – on selected routes, including Argyll, Skye, the Borders and Northern Highlands
- And ferry rides too – crossings to Mull and Skye with CalMac are free, and you get 20% off Northlink Ferries to Orkney and Shetland
- And even more – your pass includes travel on Edinburgh Trams and the Glasgow Subway. Plus, money off local heritage railways and loch cruises
20% off this winter
Buy and travel with your Spirit of Scotland travel pass between 1 November 2018 and 25 February 2019 and you’ll save 20%.
Where will you go?
With the whole country to choose from, there’s no shortage of things to do and see. With the four-day pass you could build in a couple of overnight stays to give you more time to spend at each destination. The eight-day pass gives you even more flexibility. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
There are a number of established skiing centres in Scotland – CairnGorm Mountain near Aviemore is one of the best known. It’s also the highest peak and boasts more than 30 kilometres of ski runs. CairnGorm Mountain holds its snow well throughout the skiing season, and there are plenty of routes to choose from, for skiers, snowboarders and sledgers at all levels. There are places to hire equipment onsite but it’s best to get everything arranged in advance.
The direct train from Glasgow or Edinburgh to Aviemore takes a little under three hours. It takes longer if your journey isn’t direct, so check out your times before you get to the station.
Pitlochry’s a gem during the summer months, but there’s plenty to do there through the winter too. If extreme sports are your thing, why not challenge yourself to a Highland Fling bungee jump in nearby Killiecrankie? If you prefer something a little less vertical, there are nationally recognised road and mountain bike cycle routes around the Pitlochry area – with enough variety to test even year-round cyclists.
If you want something a little gentler, you could take in a distillery tour, or two. Blair Athol Distillery is on the eastern edge of the town; or Edradour if you’re in the mood for a longer walk. A gentle walk from the train station is all it takes to reach Pitlochry Dam visitor centre. Treat yourself to a freshly-made scone, cake or sandwich (or all three) before you explore the exhibition area.
Pitlochry also has a number of bars, restaurants and places to stay overnight, so it’s a great place to break your journey.
Journey times from Edinburgh to Pitlochry are a little under two hours if you travel without any changes. The journey from Glasgow is a little quicker.
If a trip to the islands is calling, why not make it Mull? You need to get yourself to Oban first – it’s just a little over three hours on the train from Glasgow, add an extra hour or so if you’re travelling from Edinburgh. From Oban you can catch the CalMac ferry to Craignure – it’s included in the price of your travel pass – then take the local bus up to Tobermory.
Picturesque Tobermory has a gentler pace of life during the winter months, but there’s still plenty to fill your day. Try the Mull Museum on the colourful waterfront, which captures the history of the island. Don’t miss a visit to Tobermory Distillery in the south of the town. It’s been around since 1798, making it one of the oldest commercial distilleries in Scotland. In fact, the town grew up around the distillery.
Want something a bit more challenging? Get in touch with Mull Magic Wildlife Walks for information on their walking tours of the island. A clear winter’s night in Mull will reveal breathtaking views of the planets, stars and constellation in the night skies. Get in touch with the Stargazing Experience if having stars in your eyes is your thing.
Heading south for the winter always sounds appealing – Dumfries and Gretna is about as far south as you can get in Scotland. And while we can’t promise tropical weather, there’s still plenty to do and see in and around these two historic towns.
The Dumfries Art Trail takes you on a walking tour through the town, visiting the galleries and studios of local artists and makers. It’s open year-round and gives you an interesting way to explore Dumfries. You could break up your journey by popping into the Gracefield Arts Centre which has a full programme of exhibitions throughout the winter months. If you want to find out about the life of Scotland’s greatest poet, you can visit the house where Robert Burns spent the last years of his life. Or pop into the Robert Burns Centre and Film Theatre for an exhibition about the poet and Scotland’s smallest film theatre.
A little further south in Gretna, the famous Old Smithy is just a 10-minute walk from the train station. The Gretna Green exhibition traces the 250-year romantic history of the town. Sadly, you can no longer turn up at Gretna and get married — around 5,000 couples are married in the area every year, so you’ll need to book your slot.
Glasgow to Dumfries by train takes a little under an hour. The fastest route from Edinburgh is via Carlisle and takes from two to three hours depending on the connection timings. The onward trip from Dumfries to Gretna takes around 30 minutes.
Dundee is Scotland's hottest destination of the minute with the opening of the all-new V&A museum . The city has enjoyed a cultural boom in recent years and in 2015 GQ magazine described it as ‘Britain’s coolest little city’. Last year the Wall Street Journal went one step further and declared it ‘Scotland’s coolest city’.
Beyond the V&A, there’s lots to do and see year-round. And since Dundee is actually the sunniest city in Scotland, and one of the driest, there’s no time of year it’s not good to visit.
Dundee Science Centre is also just a short walk from the train station. Getting to the Verdant Works jute museum will take you a little longer – around 20 minutes on foot from the station – but it’s well worth it to step back in time and explore the city’s strong textiles heritage.
And while Dundee might once have been Scotland’s marmalade capital, these days you can expect much more variety on the culinary scene. There are contemporary restaurants, enterprising bistros, cool coffee houses, tasteful cafes, craft beer bars and good food shops abound.
Edinburgh to Dundee by train on the Aberdeen line takes an hour and a quarter. From Glasgow, again heading towards Aberdeen, the journey time is a little longer.
How to buy a ticket
By phone – call 0344 811 0141
From a ScotRail ticket office
Had a great day out? Tell us about it!
These are just some ideas for enjoying Scotland this winter but there are hundreds more out there. If you’ve got a favourite, why not share your adventures with @ScotRail on Twitter or Instagram using #UnlockScotland – we’d love to hear about them.